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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour


Bonsignore Believes Nothing Will Compare To This!
by Denise DuPont

Going into Saturday’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT) race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Doug Coby from Milford, CT. had a twenty point lead of over Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville, NY. Third in the chase was Timmy Solomito of Islip, NY., who was thirty-six points out of the chase.

The weekend for the NWMT teams began with rain on Friday which shortened their first practice session and forced the cancellation of their qualifying session. The starting order was determined by NASCAR rule book. Pitkat pitted for new rubber before the rain and returned to score the fastest lap in the shortened practice. Based on the “Adverse Weather Conditions” NASCAR ruling, Pitkat was given position one for race start. Second in practice times was Bobby Santos of Franklin, MA. who started the feature race on the outside pole.

Coming to New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) is “Daytona” to the modifieds. The series puts on a spectacular show for the fans that brings them to their feet. This year the modifieds continue to dazzle everyone with the unique finesse which drivers can draft and swap positions unlike any other division on the track. This year there were twelve lead changes among four drivers. Early in the race some of the top contenders were eliminated due to accidents. Pole sitter Woody Pitkat of Sturbridge, MA led 21 laps only to have his day end 27 laps into the race. He made contact with the outside wall causing front end suspension damage. Pitkat’s brother-in-law Bobby Santos of Franklin, MA., was second fastest in practice and started the race on the outside. He was the first one out of the race out sitting on the sidelines after he went up a little too high in turn two and the right front tire was ripped off the #44. Rowan Pennink of Huntingdon Valley, PA. had his turn at the top position for 5 laps and after 98 laps pulled into the garage area with motor issues. Pennink was running in second contending for the lead when his car suddenly slowed coming out of turn two. Continuing to round the oval, the car then emitted a black puff of smoke exiting turn three.

In 2011 a younger Bonsignore led one lap at NHMS and since then he has had nothing but bad luck at the track. Things were so cursed that when it was time to head to the “Magic Mile” he was not very enthusiastic about making the trip as would be expected. This weekend though the Pioneer Communications Inc. sponsored #51 Chevrolet managed to perform magic of their own to reverse the bad luck spell that the team had at NHMS. Finally finding the right combination the team joyously pulled into victory lane. “It has been notoriously a struggle here since we led the one lap in 2011 --with blown engines and wrecked race cars. Sometimes you did not look forward to coming here” confessed Bonsignore. “But we worked on some stuff in the spring, struggled a bit and then came back with that package. We just tuned it a little bit and right away I knew I had a good car. Yes, right away I knew I was going to be aggressive and get to the front. Right now we are in a position that we have to win and have max points and there are not that many races left for me to do it. I did what I could to get to the front and I tried to lead as many laps as I could. I knew from there if I could stay in the lead I would be the control car on the outside because I was getting really good starts. When anybody would pass me I would pass them right back. It probably would have been an interesting finish if the three did not blow up. The guys gave me a great car today. This is the one that we wrecked done in Bristol. They rebuilt it and within the last week and a half we got it back. There were a lot of late hours in the shop but that is what it is all about in this series. There is no better way to reward your guys than to get them in victory lane at Loudon. This was my first win at Loudon and I did not even know where to turn in. I was to thank all our sponsors. This is like a dream come true. I wanted to do this for a long time here.”

By lap 25, Doug Coby had made his way back into the top three. Every time he ended up on the front row for restarts, he was forced to the bottom position when the other driver choose the top groove. The track’s top lane has proven to be the best place to run. “I knew having Doug pinned on the bottom was going to be to my advantage. The outside here is just so dominate on the restarts,” recounted Bonsignore. “On that last caution, we worked it out with Ronnie --when to start the push coming to the restart. And we just executed it perfectly. When we went green he (Ron Silk) gave me a really good shove down the front stretch and I was cleared of Doug going into one. I then was by both (Doug and Ron) by turn three going into turn four. Fortunately we were able to pull away from him (Doug) off of each corner for the last two laps because he would suck right up to the back of us.”

“It is just an unbelievable feeling.” Stated Bonsignore about the win. On the last restart there was speedy dry on the track, it was a green-white-checker run and Coby and Bonsignore were right there for when the green flag flew. “I had a lot going through my head and I am so glad that it worked out. I think that the yellow coming out was a blessing the way that the race played out. I knew that if they got to my bumper it was going to be a crazy finish. And that things might happen but fortunately we got a really good restart and I was able to put some distance on them. And they did suck up to us on the draft. But our car was just so good at the end, I knew that they were going to have to wreck us to beat us but nobody was like that today.”

In the end Bonsignore reflected on the race and what the victory meant to him: “I am at a loss for words for what this means and what it feels like. It is an honor to race at such a great facility at New Hampshire. And to do it with the cup guys is special. The fans here love watching modified racing. It is definitely the best show of the weekend. We prove that week in and week out. Just to win on this stage it just has not sunk in. I have won some pretty big races on the tour but nothing will compare to this. There are no complaints on out end. We are just very happy.”

Ron Silk started the race sixth and ran with the lead pack the entire day. On the last restart he was in fourth position behind Bonsignore. He had the opportunity to push Bonsignore across the start line, draft and then potentially sling shot under Bonsignore for the win. The first two moves played out but he never had the opportunity to get under Bonsignore because of the leader’s forward momentum. “Restarting fourth, I really thought that it was the best spot,” admitted Silk. “I thought I was going to win, especially coming over and getting the white flag and being in second. That is the spot that you want to be in. I just thought I was going to win. I got loose in turn one and two and Justin was able to get enough a gap on me. I sucked back up to him but it was a little too little too late. Those guys did a great job and congratulations to them. I just had a missed opportunity I think a little bit. Second is a good run. We needed a good run, but I am a little disappointed.”

The Danny Watt’s Horton Avenue Materials sponsored #82 team had a fast car, stayed clean and was there if the opportunity occurred Silk was ready to capture it.But the moment never occurred. But in the end, a second place finish here at Loudon is nothing to be ashamed of. “We had a great car. I love coming here and for whatever reason I run really well here. And today was just another one of those days. We had a great car. We led a couple of laps and we just came up a little short.” So Silk did not take home a piece of the granite but they had fun and were there at the end.

Point leader Doug Coby did not have the day go the way that he planned. He never had a chance to grab a pack to race with him on the inside and the outside groove was Bonsignore’s territory. He managed to get up to second but the top spot eluded him all day. “I had the unlucky bottom spot on the track for the race start all day it seemed. That was not where I wanted to be. It seemed like every time I got to second and I had a shot to get the lead the caution came right out. So I ended up on the bottom for a lot of restarts and it just hurt us.” Coby stated summarizing his race day. “Up here everybody just trains around the outside. On the last restart I was pretty if I got side by side with the #5,1 passed Ron, I thought I could rough him up a little bit and try and squeeze in but I did not get a great restart and as soon as Ron got to second I was hoping he would get to second and win the race for the points sake, But I saw him get loose in front of me going into turn one and I knew at that point it was either tuck in here or try to win in second because Justin had too big of a lead.”

“On lap 6, I pulled out of line and nobody wanted to race. I pulled out of line and tried to make some moves and it seemed like nobody else wanted to. I went from third or fourth to about tenth.” Coby stated about his move to create a new train to compete with the lead pack running the bottom. “You can make the bottom work passing one car, but when they get in a line on the outside they just carry that much more momentum to go forward and you are just stuck on the bottom. We played catch from there and showed we had a great car in traffic. Anytime there was a half a car length between the two cars in front of me, I was able to pull out and pass them but when they stick to their bumpers you just can’t move them or otherwise you will wreck them. And until there is one to go there is no reason to do stuff like that. Things just did not go our way today. And with the way that race went today, I am just happy to finish third.”

got his wheels on the speedy dry and suddenly was squirrelly. “The #89 (Matt Swanson) was under me and he wiggled in the speedy dry and then I wiggled but we were able to get out of there in one piece,” stated Coby. “I think at that point we were all thankful we did not wreck. He did a great job for a young kid, he still has a lot to learn but he is learning a lot. It is never going to happen all at once. He has a great crew chief in Kenny Barry and a really great car with Spafco and Kenny knows what he is building there to have a rookie come up and finish in the top five.”

Matt Swanson began his day from way back in the field starting eighteenth. He kept his nose clean and at the last yellow was running sixth. Running with the experienced drivers he held his own and even made a late race charge.

“If you had asked me before the half-way break where we would have been at the end of this race and before the adjustments my crew chief made, I probably would have said fifteenth.” Swanson stated. “Kenny and I talked before the half-way break. We discussed what we should do. And we made the right call and after the car was very good after the hall-way break and we picked them off one by one. I ended up fourth and it is awesome especially at Loudon.”

“I knew I had to get a good restart because Justin took the top and I had Ronnie right in front of me. I got right on Ronnie’s bumper and waited for him to get a little bit of gap on me and that was when I decided to go.” Swanson said about his late race charge to the front. We got all the way up to Coby and down in three I washed it up a little bit. And that was just a racing deal. That is one thing that I have to put in my brain as a mental notebook the next time that we come here. If I am in the same situation. Al and all awesome night and weekend. ”So all in all he had a great day and definitely was the “Rookie of the Race.”

In each of the previous two races for the tour, Doug Coby, Justin Bonsignore and Timmy Solomito claimed all three of the podium spots at the checkered flag. Going into the F.W. Webb 100 race at NHMS, Coby and Solomito had four wins apiece for this race season and — with Bonsignore lagging behind with only two. Coby also led Bonsignore by 20 points and Solomito by 37. After this weekend’s F.W. Webb 100 Coby’s point lead shrunk a little to thirteen points over Bonsignore, while the margin between Coby and Solomito grew to 42 points.

The next race will be the NAPA Fall Final 150 at Stafford Motor Speedway October 2nd. Fall is a great time for racing so see you at the track.

Noted from New Hampshire Motor Speedway:

What went through your mind when you saw Pennink disappear from your mirror?

Justin Bonsignore
“Rowan really had a great car today. It is too bad and it is unfortunate that they blew up. You hate to see that happen to people. They were not content to ride second and I was very adamant about wanting to lead the draft. Our car was very good out front. And I just wanted to lead as many laps as I could. I need to get max points every week. He was really content to ride there and the way that it was playing out, it would have been one of those last lap sling-shot moves.”
Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
: September 25, 2016

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